News

Entrance to the Knight Cancer Research Building. Photo by Brad Feinknopf.

Check out what's happening at CEDAR:

Aaron Grossberg receives NCI career development award

Aaron Grossberg, M.D., Ph.D., OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Aaron Grossberg, M.D., Ph.D., has received a Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute for his research on pancreatic cancer. Grossberg is an assistant professor of radiation medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. He has a joint appointment with CEDAR and the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. Grossberg's lab studies the interaction between cancer and metabolism in an effort to identify ways to diagnose cancers sooner and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. NCI's K08 awards provide support and protected time to non-tenured clinician-scientists at the early career stage for an intensive, mentored research career development experience in basic, translational, or patient-oriented cancer-focused-research. The award will support further research on the wasting syndrome cachexia in pancreatic cancer. The mechanisms underlying cachexia are poorly understood, and there remain no effective treatments. Grossberg's team has found that pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma alters the regulation of metabolic genes in the liver, the organ that controls whole-body physiology in response to nutrient availability. The researchers are working to understand this deregulation of liver metabolism, its role in cancer cachexia, and the circulating signals that mediate these changes.

Michelle Barton joins CEDAR as co-director of cancer biology

Michelle Barton, Ph.D., CEDAR, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Michelle Barton, a scientist and academic leader at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is joining the Knight Cancer Institute as CEDAR’s new co-director of cancer biology. She comes to CEDAR by way of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she is a Professor in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, as well as the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Barton has deep biological expertise in cancer epigenetics and signaling, and a strong track record and interest in bringing new technologies to bear on biological questions. She also has a passion for teaching and mentoring. In her role at MD Anderson, she increased recruiting efforts aimed at creating a student body that is more reflective of Texas and the United States; the school is currently 12th in the nation for under-represented Ph.D. students. She also created a structure that would support diverse students once they arrived. As a co-director, she will help to set the scientific direction of the center.

Beverly Emerson honored as fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Molecular biologist Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., joined an accomplished roster of scientists, artists, scholars and all-around leaders who were elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The 2020 class include singer-songwriter-activist Joan Baez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, novelist Ann Patchett, and indie filmaker Richard Linklater. Emerson is a distinguished scientist with CEDAR, and a professor emeritus at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Using radiation to boost circulating DNA for ‘liquid biopsies’ of cancer

•	Using radiation to boost circulating DNA for ‘liquid biopsies’ of cancer

Testing for tumor DNA in blood is easier and safer than taking a biopsy of tumor tissue. The problem is, early-stage tumors may not shed enough DNA to find in a blood draw. Researchers at OHSU are working on a way to use radiation to increase the amount of tumor DNA in blood. They’ve shown that patients with suspected lung tumors show a sharp increase in circulating tumor DNA after treatment with stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT.

CEDAR postdoc wins poster prize at nuclear receptors meeting

Aysegul Ors, Ph.D

Aysegul Ors, Ph.D., won an award at the 2nd Nuclear Receptors Conference for her poster presentation on the use of single-cell, multi-omic sequencing technologies to study transcriptomic and epigenetic heterogeneity in hormone-driven breast cancers. Ors is a CEDAR postdoctoral scholar. She's working with Alex Chitsazan, M.S., a CEDAR research associate, and Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D., a CEDAR scientist and assistant professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Investigational blood test could detect many types of cancer with one blood draw

Investigational blood test could detect many types of cancer with one blood draw

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is one of five sites across the country selected by GRAIL, Inc., a health care company dedicated to detecting cancer early, to join a study designed to improve early detection of cancer. The PATHFINDER study will evaluate the implementation of an investigational early detection test that has been designed to test many types of cancer through a single blood draw, into clinical practice for the first time.

International alliance sets bold research ambition to detect the (almost) undetectable

International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection, or ACED.

The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, together with collaborators across the U.S. and the U.K., announced the formation of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection, or ACED. This new alliance is formed by the coordinated efforts of Cancer Research UK, Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, University College London (UCL) and the University of Manchester.

Building a world-class team of women scientists

Beverly Emerson, Ph.D

Women in the Knight Cancer Institute are making significant advancements in their fields. Onward, the magazine of the OHSU Foundation, profiled nine of them. Tackling a problem as big as cancer is often a matter of moving one step forward, two steps back. It requires patience and persistence and an unwavering belief that the answer is out there — at least, that’s the way Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., sees it.

Explore careers in cancer research at Knight School

Knight School-Careers in cancer

Few people know the wide variety of careers available to those who may be interested in working in the field of cancer. Knight Cancer Institute scientists share their experiences, discuss their work, and talk about the ways they mentor and develop young people so they can be a part of the effort to end cancer as we know it. Knight School is a series of community-facing science talks designed to educate, entertain, and inspire with stories told by Knight Cancer researchers, clinicians and patients.

Cancer biostatistician Ruth Etzioni joins CEDAR

Ruth Etzioni, Ph.D.

Cancer population health researcher Ruth Etzioni, Ph.D., joins the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute as a distinguished scientist at the center for Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research. She will be responsible for leading a collaborative research project on epidemiology that advances cancer early detection at CEDAR. Etzioni is a leader in the field of cancer epidemiology, with a distinguished record of scientific and technical accomplishments.

Cancer 101: An introduction to early detection research

Cancer 101 Knight School

Learn about the history of cancer treatment, what's possible today and what's next in treatment and therapy as we work to end cancer as we know it. Watch the Knight School session.

They chose OHSU: Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D.

Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D.

Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D., is an associate scientist at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research (CEDAR) center, one of the largest initiatives in the world focused on research to enable the detection of cancers at an earlier, more treatable stage. At the University of Cambridge, UK, while working as a Ph.D. student, Mohammed invented a method to analyze and understand protein complexes more efficiently — a method now being used in labs across the world. Importantly, this method allowed him to discover a pivotal role for the hormone progesterone in regulating breast cancer.

Knight Cancer Institute hopes collaboration will lead to cures

CEDAR collaboration

Leaders at the Knight Cancer Institute know that scientific discoveries are not guaranteed, even with $1 billion to spend looking for answers. They also know that some of the world’s most dramatic discoveries happened by accident, when scientists were looking for something completely different than what they ended up finding. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary work — a kind of intellectual cross-pollination that can lead to surprising results — is the goal at OHSU.

CEDAR appoints a chief medical officer

Tomasz Beer, M.D.

Tomasz Beer, M.D., joined CEDAR as chief medical officer. In this new role, he brings a clinician’s perspective to early detection research and guide scientists’ understanding of patient needs. Beer will continue to serve as Deputy Director of the Knight Cancer Institute. He will also advise on the selection of diseases CEDAR targets and ensure research strategy is designed to yield improvements in human health, while fostering collaborations between CEDAR scientists and the Knight Cancer Institute’s clinical research community.

CEDAR welcomes Paul Spellman as co-director

Paul Spellman, Ph.D.

Paul Spellman, Ph.D., joined the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research center as a co-director. In this new role at CEDAR, Spellman will mentor young scientists, provide strategic guidance for the center, review scientific proposals, and help align the center’s scientific direction. Spellman is a professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine and co-leader of the Quantitative Oncology Program in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

The promise of early detection: Watch Sadik Esener's Marquam Hill Lecture

Sadik Esener, Ph.D.

Sadik Esener, Ph.D., is building a multidisciplinary team to reveal the evolutionary biology of cancer to develop low-cost screening, determine which cancers to aggressively treat and leverage precision therapies to minimize toxicity. The Wendt Family Chair professor of biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research center (CEDAR), Dr. Esener and his team's goal is to find and eliminate lethal cancers at the earliest stage with little harm to the patient.

Bree Mitchell joins CEDAR leadership team

Bree Mitchell, Ph.D.

Bree Mitchell, Ph.D., has been named executive director for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research center. Mitchell joined OHSU in 2015 as associate director of strategic partnerships at the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. Previously, she served as deputy director at Stanford University’s Canary Center for Early Detection.

Nanotechnology expert selected to lead OHSU’s large-scale early cancer detection initiative

Sadik Esener, Ph.D., CEDAR

A scientific innovator, whose achievements range from developing diagnostic biochips to creating nanoscale cancer-fighting “smart bullets” that deliver treatments to tumor cells, has been recruited to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to lead the first large-scale early cancer detection program of its kind. Sadik Esener, Ph.D., will direct the institute’s Center for Early Detection Research and has been awarded the Wendt Family Endowed Chair in Early Cancer Detection. He has an extensive background in bringing together scientists and technology across disciplines to provide compelling solutions to previously unsolved challenges in biomedicine.